A Stroll Through the Pygmy Forest

 It has been a few years since I took the Pygmy Forest trail at one of our coastal California State Parks, and decided to do so on my long weekend trip; the trailhead was close to my cottage and I had a flexible schedule. 

 When approaching the Mendocino County Coast from the east some of the roads will take you through a belt of transitional forest-here the trees and other vegetation are noticeably smaller, the soil is thin  and grey, and there are no Redwoods. Within this belt is the Pygmy forest, where 100 year old Cypress trees that would soar 3 or 4 stories skyward along the coast highway are hardly recognizable as the same tree.
 The area is considered environmentally sensitive, thus the trail is boardwalk built above ground level.

 This is Pinus contorta bolanderi , the Bolander Pine, which is found only in the Pygmy Forest. They are quite small, most seemed to be in the 5' range, but are mature trees which bear cones.

  With no significant rainfall since May,the lichens and mosses are not at their peak.

 This is Manzanita nummilaria 'Fort Bragg Manzanita' which like the Bolander Pine is restricted to the soils of the Pygmy Forest. It's a very low ground hugging shrub, similar to M. uva-ursi.

  Our native Huckleberry is seen in many different environments; in the acidic soils  of the Pygmy forest they appear to do just fine.

 Spring is the best time to visit here, the native Rhododendrons that are 20 feet tall in other environments are at eye level here , and the mosses and lichens are at their best.


  1. Fun to read about KS.

    In Ontario there are dwarf cedar trees growing on the Niagara Escarpment that are nearly 2000 years old.

    1. I will have to google this Marie; such an interesting ecosystem.

  2. Replies
    1. I feel fortunate to live near so many types of forests. Wonderful places, not to be taken for granted !

  3. It must have been wonderful going through that walk, the forest looks so atmospheric and ethereal :)

  4. The air must be super clean with all those lichens. It reminds me of the highlands of Scotland.

    1. Interesting comparison EG, Heaths and Callunas are grown in abundance on this coast, and in fact gorse was introduced at some point in it's history and proved to be very aggressive, crowding out the natives. There has been quite a bit of success eradicating it.This area though always cool, is mostly frost free, so things will grow quite freely.

  5. That is so interesting. I've been to Mendocino several times but always working and never with enough time to explore. Great post Kathy

  6. Manzanita leaves are very attractive, so glossy!


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